The Dixon family of Thornbury were what we would call today ‘travellers’. Our story starts with:
Robert Dixon and his wife, Jemima.
Our first record of them in Thornbury is the 1871 census which shows them ‘living under canvas’ in Thornbury. Robert was a tinman aged 38 from the Forest of Dean. Jemima was aged 39 from Leckhampton in Gloucestershire. They had 9 children: Luke aged 19, Ellen aged 14, John aged 12, Sarah aged 10, Matthew aged 8, Charity aged 6, Mary Jane aged 4, Mark aged 2 and Emily aged 6 weeks. All nine children were born in different places!
Jemima Wood was baptised on 14th February 1830 at Leckhampton in Gloucestershire. She was the daughter of James Wood and his wife, Sarah (nee Lock).
The 1881 census shows Robert had a proper roof over his head. He was living in Lower Bath Road, at the house which later became known as 4 Rock Street. Robert was described as a travelling hawker and they now only had six of their children living with them.
In 1891 Robert and Jemima were living in Chapel Street with their widowed daughter, Ellen Davis and her daughter, Keeley. The 1893 voters list shows that Robert Dixon was living in Horseshoe Lane – we are not sure if they were living in the same house as his son, Luke, who was also living there, but it seems likely.
In 1901 Robert was living in a 3-roomed house at 7 Upper Bath Road – he was a widower and ‘certificated pedlar’. Jemima had died in 1895 aged 66. Robert died in the infirmary of Thornbury Workhouse on 14th December 1902. There seems to have bee some confusion as to Robert’s age at death. FreeBMDs (taken from the death registration) shows he was 64, the Workhouse infirmary record shows him as 66 and the burial register for when he was buried at Thornbury Cemetery on 17th December 1902 shows his age as 76. In the burial register Robert is described as a pauper.
Of Robert and Jemima’s children, two figure in what we have found so far:
Luke was born about 1852, the eldest son of Robert and Jemima Dixon. In 1871 Luke, then aged 19, was working as tinmen like his father.
By the 1881 census Luke had married his cousin, Jemima Smith. Jemima was the daughter of Josiah Wood (who had begun using his step-father’s surname of Smith rather than Wood). In the 1881 census, Luke and Jemima were listed as living in Winterbourne Trench Lane Cabelos – we are not sure what ‘cabelos’ were but two families were living there. Both Luke and his next door neighbour were both tinplate workers. They had 5 children: Mark aged 7, Ada aged 5, Julia aged 4, Sydney aged 2 and Athelina aged 5 months. Only Ada was described as a scholar.
According to the 1887 rate book Luke was back in Thornbury renting out 6 Rock Street. The 1891 census shows Luke Dixon living in 17 Horseshoe Lane. He was a general labourer aged 31 from Newport, Gloucestershire and his wife, Jemima aged 34 born in Nettleton. They had children: Mark aged 18 born in Surrey, Ada aged 16 born in Newport, Glos, Julia aged 13 born in Hereford, Sidney aged 12 born in Crossways, Athelina aged 10 born in Acton Lane, Yate, Martha aged 7 born in Rudgeway and Maurice aged 1 born in Stanwell, Middlesex. These details show that Luke also had the habit of ‘moving on’.
We believe that Luke and Jemima also had some at least two other children. There is a marriage record of Edith Dixon on 3rd November 1894 which shows Edith’s father was Luke Dixon, hawker. Edith’s husband was Thomas Cole, another hawker, and the son of Albert Cole, a labourer. This is interesting as it shows there were two connections between these two families – Edith’s sister, Julia, married Goliath Cole, Thomas’s brother in 1901. Edith and Thomas lived at Crossways at the time of their marriage.
From time to time, Luke seemed to get into trouble with the Law. In 1883 Luke (and a man named Francis Stephens) were convicted of stealing hay (worth 6d) at Iron Acton. Both men were fined six pence and 13 shillings costs. In the same year he was charged with allowing two horses to stray on to the highway. He was fined 5 shillings with 7 shillings costs. In 1890, Luke, described as a gypsy, was charged with camping on the highway at Mumbleys Hill and fined 17 shillings including costs. In the same issue of the newspaper there was a brief mention of a similar offence for which he was charged with in Berkeley and fined 5 shillings plus costs.
In 1892, he was charged with stealing 24lb of hay, valued at 10d, from the farm of Thomas Anstey. Apparently Luke had left a trail of hay leading from the farm back to his property which the police were able to follow and matched the hay in Anstey’s barn with some found in Luke’s manger. He was fined £2, ‘there being other convictions recorded’.
Finally, in 1895 Luke was charged with making a bonfire within 50ft of the centre of the carriageway at Tytherington to the injury of the highway and he was fined £1 with 6 shillings and 6 pence costs.
By 1901 Luke and Jemima had moved again, this time to Gillingstool. Their daughter, Julia, is living next door with her husband Goliath Cole and their daughter, Gertrude Cole aged 1. Luke and Jemima’s son, Mark, and his family are living next to the Coles. Luke, his son, Sidney, Goliath Cole and Mark Dixon are all now working as clothes peg makers.
Luke is listed as a ‘hawker’ in the 1904 Thornbury trade directory. Notes in the Wilmot documents indicate that Luke and Jemima living at 2 Rock Street. He was in this part of the street in the 1911 census when Luke was described as a mason’s labourer aged 51 living with Jemima, a general hawker aged 54 and their son, Maurice a general labourer aged 22. Jemima died aged 62 years and she was buried in Thornbury Cemetery on 10th October 1918. Luke died aged 69. He was buried in Thornbury Cemetery on 18th March 1922. Three of Luke’s children feature in the information we have researched so far. Click here to read more about his children
Mark was born in Tockington or Almondsbury about 1869, the eighth child of Robert and Jemima Dixon.
Mark was a groom but we haven’t been able to trace his marriage to Florence Mundy, the daughter of Charles and Hannah Mundy. Florence was born in 1868. In September quarter of 1894 they had one son, Austin. The 1896 Voters List shows they had moved from Horse Shoe Lane to Outer Back Street (which is now known as Rock Street). The 1899 rate book show that they were living in the house which later became known as 7 Rock Street. Mark died aged 29 years and was buried on 12 August 1898. In the 1901 census, Florence was a charwoman aged 33 living in the 2-roomed house with Austin aged 6. The rate books show that Florence continued to live there until at least 1910. At the time of the 1911 census, Florence and Austin were living with Florence’s father at 53 St Mary Street. By 1914 we think they had moved to 5 Gloucester Road. She continued to live there until her death in 1934 aged 63. The photo on the right shows Florence with her grandson, George.